May 10, 2012

The Mill at Anselma: A fully functioning Colonial Mill

This post is a little late but I’ve been meaning to write something up about my visit to the Mill at Anselma a few weeks ago. This was actually the first that I had heard of this site and now that I have been there, I am really surprised. 

It is located in a beautiful part of Chester County, dotted with Amish farms and little shops. The weather was beautiful, sunny with a nice breeze.

The site was bustling with excited visitors but the site was serene with field stone buildings by the water, dating back to the 1700s. I typically don't take day trips alone, but this was a school function and was still fun.

Built in 1747, the mill was the area’s center of grain processing until the early 1900s. The millstones powered by a huge waterwheel and 18th century technology. According to their website, "The Mill stands as the most intact, authentic example of a custom water-powered grain mill in the United States and has been so honored by the U.S. Department of Interior as a National Historic Landmark."

It’s incredible to see something like this in action. You would not believe how neat it is to see the wooden parts, and gears moving stones weighing thousands of pounds and grinding corn kernels into meal. This is one of those technologies that you know the theory of, but the real thing is just astounding. 
The Waterwheel

 In addition to the mill, you can see a spring house, houses and a barn as well as the mill run. It's really a very unique place to visit, especially if you like old tools and machinery. The mill also functioned as a saw mill, cider press and workshop.
The Millhouse
Milling was such a common thing in Colonial times. It really is special to get to see the inter-workings of a mill just as they would have been hundreds of years ago.Click here to read more about Colonial mills in Pennsylvania and to see a map of the over 200 mills in Colonial Chester County.
The Finished Product
Overall, the day was fantastic and the site was lovely. There was a lot there that you just can't see at any other historical sites.
 I was excited to learn that you can buy different kinds of flour, milled at the site, in their gift shop. They also had these really cute, baked good mixes sold in mason jars tied up with ribbons. I never would have thought of that, but what a cute gift idea!  

It really was a fun trip, and well worth it. If you go, make sure you go on a warm weekend when you can stop at Milky Way Farm and get an ice cream cone made from fresh milk from the farm’s dairy cows.


  1. I never heard of it either. I should check it out. It looks so pretty.

    1. It really is pretty cool. It's crazy to see wooden parts working like that.

      Some people I work with might be going for a visit sometime soon. I'll let you know.

  2. Thanks so much for this post! I have an infatuation with gristmills and mills in general.
    Is this in it's original location?
    We have one that I know of in Michigan that sits right where it was built 150+ years ago. The best part is that the area, in general, still looks very much the same as it did back then.
    Wonderful pictures by the way!

    1. Thanks Ken! This one hasn't moved. The mill has the "Oliver Evans system" that uses chutes and cups to move the flour up and downstairs, but they don't use it. It's fascinating.

      I'd love to see some photos from the 1860s mill. I wonder how much Anselma would differ from that one.

  3. That looks really cool. I wish I could have gone with you. Can we go sometime? I'd like to see it. And get some of that yummy ice cream on the way.. ;)

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  5. You should take me to this place sometime this summer. I'd repay you with a tour and picnic at Hagley museum.


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